Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland California. One of my favorite new buildings. Glass sheath and wooden slats for shade, great light. Modern take on an old institution. The Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay instituted a design competition for Christ the Light. Various designs were judged and the corporation announced Santiago Calatrava, of Valencia, Spain as the winner. He designed the post–September 11 World Trade Center Port Authority Trans-Hudson station in New York City. Calatrava's design for The Cathedral of Christ the Light was chosen before a site was appropriated for the project.
By the time a site was chosen, a parking lot formerly dedicated to the construction of the tallest building in Oakland, Calatrava's design fell out of favor and was instead replaced by a design of competition runner-up Craig W. Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill offices in San Francisco.
Hartman, designer of the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport, created a 20th-century abstract building from the family of styles developed by architects like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, famous for creating steel shapes filled with glass. Hartman's vision for The Cathedral of Christ the Light was likened to the image of a bishop's mitre, shaped by steel and filled with glass frit.
The worship space in The Cathedral of Christ the Light is a vesica piscis shape (translated into English means fish bladder), the shape formed by the intersection of two circles. The walls are composed of overlapping panels of wood and glass rising skyward to form the vault, much like the scales of a fish. The design is inspired by the miracle of the loaves and the fishes in Christian tradition, among other motifs. The Oakland Tribune wrote of the Hartman's description of light, "The design allows light to filter in, reminiscent of how light filters through a canopy of tall redwood trees in a wooded glade, Hartman said".